Implications of AI: legal responsibility and civil rights

Just a few years ago, the idea of artificially intelligent robots would have seemed like pure science fiction. The first mention of an automaton in in Homer’s Illiad. More recently, early science fiction writers like H.G. Wells and Isaac Asimov wrote about artificially intelligent robots. Today, we’re treated to at least one movie each year that deals with the subject of artificial intelligence.

Only in the last few years has artificial intelligence began to seem like a reality. Every day artificial intelligence is more science and less fiction. Already there are real world applications for artificial intelligence. They’re beginning to take over jobs that were once handled by humans. In the next few years, experts predict that artificial intelligence will continue to become more a part of our daily lives. It’s predicted that by 2025, robots will be replacing humans in one third of today’s jobs. We’re only just now coming to terms with the implications that a future shared with artificial intelligence has in store.

The robot apocalypse

A favorite motif in artificial intelligence fiction is the robot apocalypse, in which artificial intelligence decides that humans needs to go and turns its focus to obliterating all human life. Nearly every Hollywood movie about artificial intelligence in the last decade has included this plot line. Though these movies and stories are science fiction and pure speculation, many brilliant minds are concerned that there could be a real threat in creating artificial intelligence, especially if they’re given control of our weapons systems.

Big names in the scientific community like Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla Motors) and Stephen Hawking, along with more than 1,000 other AI and robotics researchers have signed an open letter citing the dangers of using AI in weapons development.

What about the legal and social implications

Though Hollywood—and the general public—like to imagine worst-case-scenarios—there are other important implications that haven’t been given as much consideration. Consider the example of the automated shopping robot designed by a Swiss art group. It was programmed to purchase illegal products over the Darknet. It was able to purchase a Hungarian passport and some Ecstasy pills as well as a few other illegal products before it was “arrested” by Swiss police. Ultimately, no charges were brought against the robot or its creators but the idea remains, how will society deal with the criminal activities of artificially intelligence beings in the future, especially when they are acting on their own and not on the programming of humans? Will artificial intelligence be held legally responsible? If so, will they need the same human rights that most people have in free countries such as the right to legal counsel? Will we see artificially intelligence beings fighting for equal rights? Only the future can tell, but perhaps it is just as likely we’ll see a robot civil rights movement as a robot apocalypse.

Source: Tech Crunch

Humor: Artificial intelligence’s greatest obstacle


It’s been said that the true test of mastering a foreign language is the ability to make a joke in that language. While a sense of humor is usually second nature for most native speakers, it’s surprisingly difficult—if not impossible—to teach. It’s so difficult, in fact, that some reason that the development of a sense of humor will be the ultimate test for artificial intelligence. To understand the difficulty in teaching artificial intelligence to be humorous, consider what goes into making a joke.

What’s in a joke?

On a recent trip to Australia, comedy writer, David Misch observed two manta rays engaged in—shall we say—extracurricular activities. With perfect comedic timing, he quipped “Hey! It’s fifty shades of ray!” The joke led his friend, a former computer programmer interested in artificial intelligence, to think about whether a computer could ever be programmed to make that joke—not merely be programmed to repeat it, but truly generate it were it exposed to the same circumstances that David Misch was.

In the end, it was determined that in order for an artificially intelligent computer to make that joke, it would need to be able to perform numerous, instant calculations. It would need to be able to connect the two very different topics of manta ray intercourse and human S and M, then it would need to be able to access the entirety of pop culture references to human S and M ultimately settling on Fifty Shades of Grey. Then it would need the ability to appreciate the pun, understand the rhyme of “ray” and “grey,” and gauge the audience’s ability to get the joke. Finally, artificial intelligence would need to do all of this in a blink of an eye to achieve good comedic timing (the joke wouldn’t have been funny five minutes later).

The moral of this story is that a lot goes into the making of a good joke and artificial intelligence is still far away from being able to replicate it.

Funny AI

Though artificial intelligence is still a long way away from developing a sense of humor, that hasn’t stopped humans from trying. Apple executives, for instance, were not overly thrilled to learn that those who programmed Siri, the iPhone’s built-in personal assistant, had managed to work in a few jokes. Microsoft’s counterpart, Cortana, is likewise programmed to give humorous responses to certain questions. Of course the major difference is that these artificial intelligences are merely parroting back jokes that they were programmed to say in response to specific questions, not generating their own humor.

The ultimate test

Some have theorized that in order for AI to reach its full potential, humans will need to feel comfortable interacting with it. Developing a sense of humor will certainly need to be a part of that process. Of course, that’s easier said than done. For the time being, we’ll have to be content with Siri’s dry sense of humor that she inherited from computer programmers.

Source: Huffington Post

Could AI develop spirituality?

Artificial Intelligence theorists spend a good deal of time thinking about how the creation of true artificial intelligence would affect society. Some brilliant minds, like Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates are rather pessimistic about what a future with artificial intelligence could mean for humankind. Others are hoping for the best. Both sides predict an event called The Singularity.

The Singularity

The Singularity is a term artificial intelligence theorists use to describe a point in time where the development of intelligence is no longer biological. In other words, true intelligence can be created and that intelligence can in turn build upon itself. Because this artificial intelligence would not be restricted by the need for biological evolution, like humans are, it could grow exponentially quickly surpassing human intelligence, eventually becoming trillions of times more advanced than human intelligence.

Good AI, bad AI

If The Singularity did come about, and many brilliant minds like Hawking predict that it will (and soon). Human intelligence would be surpassed quickly. For many theorists, it’s only a question of when. But one unanswered question is whether this will be good or bad for humankind.

Hollywood movies depicting artificial intelligence often portray a dystopian future where artificial intelligence has altered its own directives and is now bent on eliminating humankind. But according to many theorists, the opposite reality could become true. As intelligence grows exponentially, AI could prove more and more useful to humans resulting in unimaginable advancements in technology.

The real question is whether an artificially intelligent being would seek to harm or help humans.

AI and religion

One question about AI that is only just now being talked about is whether AI could become religious. Humans have pondered about their purpose in the universe and how they came to be since their beginning. If human intelligence can be boiled down to electrochemical reactions in the brain, then, theoretically, artificial intelligence, like human intelligence, could begin to think about those same kinds of questions leading them to a religion of sorts.

Marvin L. Minksy of MIT hypothesized that artificial intelligence might even be able to develop a “soul” of sorts. He jokes that perhaps artificial intelligence will one day stumble upon a computer science textbook, read about the development of artificial intelligence, and ultimately reject the idea that they were first created by humans and develop their own belief system about how they came to be.

If artificial intelligence were to become religious, we can only hope that they would choose a peaceful belief system that is inclusive towards humans rather than an exclusive and violent one.

Source: Huffington Post

Will artificial intelligence make us smarter or stupider?

Technology is now developing at an unprecedented rate as new technologies allow us to develop even more technologies at an exponential rate. Many have wondered whether a world run by increasingly intelligent machines will eventually cause us to become less intelligent.

The age of machines

This wouldn’t be the first time that major advancements in technology resulted in changes in mankind. After the industrial revolution, when the work performed by manual laborers was outsourced to machines, people became less physically active. Many believe that our sedentary lifestyle—and a worldwide obesity epidemic—can be attributed to the industrial revolution.

Of course, the industrial revolution wasn’t all bad. Though it led to poorer physical health, it also likely contributed to greater human intelligence. Because humans were freed from monotonous manual labor, they were free to devote more time to intellectual pursuits. Furthermore, humans needed to be more intelligent to navigate a congested modern city than a small rural town.

The internet age

Now, we are in the internet age where limitless amounts of knowledge are at our fingertips. Anyone with a computer, tablet, or smartphone has access to virtually every bit of information that exists in the world. This has allowed humans to become even more intelligent.

The artificial intelligence age

The artificial intelligence age is still years ahead of us. But already we are beginning to see many early artificial intelligence systems taking over certain tasks. For instance, planes are for the most part flown by automatic pilot systems except during takeoff and landing. The task of handling air traffic at busy airports has become so monumental, that we have turned it over to artificial intelligence systems. Already, artificial intelligence has been able to beat Gary Kasparov, a chess genius, at his own game and Ken Jennings in a game of Jeopardy.

Thanks to Moore’s Law, which states that there will be an exponential increase in electronic processing capacity over time, artificial intelligence machines will be able to do more and more of the thinking for us. Already we have personal assistants like Siri (if you own an Apple device) or Cortana (if you own a Windows device running Windows 10). In the not-too-distant future, these personal assistants can become so advanced that they will automate much of our day-to-day tasks.

The easy life

The real question is whether a future with artificial intelligence will make us smarter or stupider. Just as the industrial revolution automated manual labor and made humans lazier, the artificial intelligence age could automate our thinking and make us stupider. However, also like the industrial revolution, the artificial intelligence age could also automate tasks that make us free to follow intellectual pursuits ultimately making us smarter. Only time will tell exactly how artificial intelligence will affect our day-to-day life.

Source: Huffington Post